Student Stories

Student Stories

Minn Chaturarat, Thailand Year 12 Leaver, November 2015

I have been here in Dunedin, NZ for six and a half months. I have learnt lots of things, not just English, but also life experience. I’m studying year 12 at Kavanagh College as an international student from Thailand.


When I came to this school on the first day of term two I was afraid to use English. I was lucky to have three friends coming athe the same time, Kodai, Yuka and Echo. I didn’t understand when teachers and my host family were talking because I hadn’t listened to a British/NZ accent before I came here. Although I didn’t understand them, they helped me in class and everything. I met some more friends and they became my best friends. We went to play sports, visit museums and have dinner together. I was so happy with my life here.


At school, I have taken Math, English, ESOL, Biology, Music and Photography. Ms Watts (Music) is a kind woman who always gives me opportunities to do lots of things such as being part of the Trebletones (singing group), Kavanagh’s Got Talent, the Musical Theatre Program at University and I sang in the Otago Music Festival. I have had lots of experiences in these activities.


Kavanagh College gave me lots of experiences to do new things. I am now grown up one step about English, friends and living with other people in another country.





Maria Ellen Da Silva, Brazil Year 12 Leaver, November 2015


Before I came here I was very excited but also at the same time I was sad. I would stay so far from my family, my friends, everything, but I knew that it could be a unique opportunity for me, so I am here now. It is wonderful the sensation and feelings that this travel brought, the feeling of fear does not exist anymore, everything has a meaning and a goal.


Before I was without confidence but now things are different. The exchange brought instant confidence for me, I learned to be more responsible, to have more respect for other people and other ethnicities, because NZ has many people from many places. The exchange provided the first opportunity to travel by plane, to make my own decisions without my parents so I evolved as a person in a short time.


I can say that I am in love with New Zealand. This country is awesome, with majestic landscapes , educated people, some cold days but that’s OK, with beautiful gardens to visit with your friends , beautiful sunsets at the end of the afternoon. New Zealand is a wonderful country to live.


About what will I remember? I will remember everything, because there are no ways to forget the people, the school, the places and unique opportunities that were wonderful. I hope to come back one day with my family and friends, to show every place that I went and to say as New Zealand is wonderful.





Julia Esser, Germany Year 12 Leaver, November 2015


 ….Now there are 6 weeks left. I made lots of positive experiences in my time here. For example I noticed how important my family is and you can be very happy with the little things. Of course I improved my English skills a lot. Here I detected my love for cooking and baking and I can’t wait to try new recipes at home. Additionally I liked to try lots of new foods which I didn’t know before. I learned lots of funny things like eating kiwifruit with the skin and it doesn’t taste bad. In Germany I would have never even thought about it.


Before I came to NZ I wanted to go skiing and riding. I went on a school ski trip in the beginning. It was quite different to Austria because it was so empty. I didn’t ride until now, but I hope to do that before I leave. I also started rowing. It’s beautiful when the weather is nice but it’s so early in the morning. It’s a shame I can’t go on with rowing in Germany.






Ida Lieback, Germany Y13 Leaver, May 2015

Ida modelling at Dunedin ID Fashion Week

Coming to New Zealand was probably one of the best decisions of my life. In my 10 months at Kavanagh College I have made so many new friends and experienced a completely different culture. The people at Kavanagh - students and teachers - have shaped my life forever and I myself can say that when I go back to Germany, I will be a new person. In many ways I have learnt more about myself and the way I interact with my environment.

Kavanagh College is a wonderful school with lots of opportunities for everybody.

Before I came to NZ I never thought that I could enjoy art classes as much as I did here. I discovered a whole new way of representing my ideas and the individual advice that I got from my teacher and my classmates also helped me develop my skills further, getting a better insight in the subject.

I feel that in this short time that I have been here I have grown mentally and learnt a lot about respect. I have found friends that I know are the reason I will always try to come back here!

Of course I am sad that I will have to leave Kavanagh in two months already, but more importantly I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to come here.





Evan Li, China  Y13 Leaver, Dec 2014

I am really proud of being an integral part of Kavanagh College. All the teachers are lovely and willing to help students. The ESOL department helped me a lot, not only on my journey of learning but also on the life in NZ. Students at Kavanagh are friendly which makes me feel as at home as possible.

Kavanagh provides heaps of opportunities for every student in varied fields, such as music, sports and education. In the past two years, I really enjoyed the activities which were held by the school community. I had a very fun time in the school jazz band with all the music people, in the tramping with all my friends, in the sports with teammates and in the classes with all the lovely teachers.

I am really glad that I spent those years at Kavanagh College and this meant a lot to me.



James Zhao, China Y13 Leaver, Dec 2014

Kavanagh College is a great school. I have been studying there for two and half years. The time I had in Kavanagh was awesome, a friendly environment, teachers and students.

The school has a really nice gym, which gives us a good place to have sports practices. The teachers are really helpful, they helped me a lot when I first got in the school and before my external exams. Our ESOL teacher, Mrs Ridden, gave me much support during the time I was in Kavanagh.

In science classes, we do different experiments to help us understand new knowledge. I believe this kind of study is effective and more fun than just doing paper work.

Kavanagh College did not only teach me the basic knowledge, but being a respectful and truthful person.



Kento Watanabe, Japan, Y13 Leaver, Nov 2013  (Kento is pictured centre)

In my Kavanagh, Dunedin and NZ life for 3 years, I’ve experienced a lot of things that would not be possible to experience in high school life in Japan. I feel really happy that I could study in Kavanagh for 3 years with friendly friends and gentle teachers.

The most impressive memory in my Kavanagh life is the annual school formal party which Kavanagh organizes in around end of term 3 for year 12 and 13 students. The formal party was actually really fresh experience for me because I never had a chance to have such a gorgeous and fun party in Japan. I think if I had stayed in Japan to go to high school, I would have never had the amazing experience. 

I just picked up the one experience but actually I had countless amazing experiences in my Kavanagh life, such as sports activities, Kavanagh Day and trips with my friends in NZ. These experiences are really impressive and unforgettable and all these experiences made me grow up amazingly in 3 years.

The reason why I could have these experiences is that I was a Kavanagh student. So big thanks to all my friends and teachers have supported me for 3 years.




June Burapatanin, Thailand, Y13 Leaver, Nov 2014 (June is pictured on the right)

New Zealand is a peaceful and beautiful place to study and explore I decided to study in Kavanagh College, Dunedin because this city has historic and cultural, many schools and a great university.

Kavanagh College is co-ed catholic school with a great uniform and it located near to town which you can hang around with friends after school. My first impression of this school is friendly and welcoming friends and teachers, which made me feel relaxed and comfortable to be around them. 

There are so many different activities that you can take part in such as music, sports, musical, speech competition etc. Moreover, there are lots of events during the school year such as Kavanagh's Day, Sport Day, Kavanagh's Got Talent and Formal for the leavers.

In the past years that I have been studying here, this school made me feel that I am the part of this College and It makes me proud to say that I graduated from Kavanagh College.




Max Möller, Germany (Y12, 2014) 22 September 2014

When I first came to Kavanagh College, the world famous cultural shock was very present, so I was pretty relieved when I saw how my first day at Kavanagh College would be like. Being not the only new “greenhorn”, we were welcomed with the usual Kiwi-esque enthusiasm which is so well known around the world.

Even though everybody did their best to make it as easy as possible for me, I was still confused two weeks later: a thousand new faces (and names that belong to them), a slightly complex school building and a ridiculously complicated timetable.

Finding friends at least was rather easy. Even though you can’t just get into the numerous peer groups gathering in the breaks, everybody is outgoing and friendly and even the school itself can open new doors. It wasn’t long until everybody knew me (or at least my name).

Then there are the teachers: It is always said that teachers are a species for themselves, but Kavanagh’s teachers prove that wrong. Skilled, helpful and most of the time friendly and relaxed, they definitely helped me a lot. 

Another point which is very important are the subjects. Not just the amount of subjects I was able to choose from, it’s the diversity. Whether you’re creative, athletic, skilled with languages or numbers, interested in technic or science – you’ll find something. 


What is the ultimate thing that I like most about Kavanagh? It’s the community. The fact that absolutely everybody is nice and outgoing. The fact that you just simply walk up to someone and say “Hi” and sit down and talk. The bond between student and student and student and teacher. Though not everybody is (and some maybe never will be) your friend, everybody is friendly. People just appear to be more human than in other places
So, after all, considering the amount and diversity of subjects (and most of the time the skills they’re teached with) and the tremendous community and companionship you can feel right from the first minute, Kavanagh College is one of the best places I’ve been to.




Jessica Beckers, Germany (Y11, 2014)

Before I came to New Zealand, I did not know what the life here is about. I just thought, the other sides of the world must be very different to my German life. Living in another country for three months was a nice experience I would not like to have missed.

I learned that the people here are open-minded and friendly and live in a nice and relaxed way. I forgot my busy life in Germany and jumped into a relaxed life learning about the country. From the first time I saw the beautiful landscape of New Zealand I was really impressed and I still love it now. I acted a bit like a tourist at first, doing tours, exploring the wildlife and landscape of New Zealand and started learning how its people’s 

lives are like. I adapted myself to the acting of my host family and other people and it felt good.

When I chose my subjects at school, I was really happy to have the opportunity to take practical subjects. I have chosen Science, English, Maths, ESOL, Physical Education and Textile Design. That means for me learning about different sport exercises than in my home country and doing sewing, which is a lot of fun. I like the relaxed way of learning in comparison to Germany. Having six instead of twelve subjects means that you can focus on them a bit more, but you also do not have that many opportunities to specialise in a particular area for the future.

It was my first time living in a host family and I am really happy. My host family is friendly, took me to exciting places like the Tunnel Beach and helped me to arrange tours to see all of their country. Moreover it is good to have people around you who care about you and comfort you if you get sick or miss your family and friends from your home country. I started loving my host siblings and host parents and I will feel sad when I have to leave them and this amazing country.

Overall I really enjoyed my time in New Zealand and I hope I can come back one day.



Joaquin Olmos Peleaz,  Mexico (Yr12, 2014)

What I liked the most of New Zealand it was the people from here they have a lovely sense of humour; they help you all the time. I also love the places and views that New Zealand has; my favourite city is Queenstown, it has so many things to do. I really enjoy the gondola too. Queenstown has the best burgers ever, they are called Fergburger and they are really good. There is also a place very close to Queenstown called Milford Sound.

Before I went there all the people told me it was the prettiest place in the world; I am not sure if it’s the truth but when I got there it was just like any place of New Zealand.

What I will remember the most of Kavanagh College will be all my friends and the teachers that I got to know really well. It was cool.